D. N. Angel Fan Fiction ❯ Chapter 1

[ T - Teen: Not suitable for readers under 13 ]

Chapter 13:
 
Disclaimer: I do not own DN Angel.
 
Day Five, Dark thought wryly as he worked through the dizzying rush of blood to the head as he got out of bed. Living with Daisuke had turned out not to be as bad as he had initially imagined, but at the same time it was…jarring. It was strange to turn around and see another person where there had only been an empty chair minutes before, or see someone rummaging through one’s DVD collection. Speaking of DVDs, he had better hide his porn somewhere else, otherwise heaven alone knew what might happen. He certainly did not want anyone to know of his penchant for certain…acts, and scaring Daisuke was not on his list of Top Ten Things to Do. He staggered over to the bathroom and slammed the door shut, sticking his head under the tap and letting the water run into his hair. Twenty minutes later and he was downstairs, trying his best not to stare enviously at Daisuke’s still closed door and imagine how warm and comfy it was in bed.
 
“Oh baby,” he declared happily to his ancient Dell computer, “I missed you so much!” Fondly stroking the side of the monitor, he smiled happily at being able to get back to work as he settled down into the old, squeaky office chair and spun around a few times. Then a familiar blond head popped up, just barely clearing the cubicle wall.
 
“Ed!” Golden eyes crinkled as the other man laughed and came around.
 
“Good to see you,” the blond grinned. “Office’s been quiet without you. Satoshi’s been moping around, and Takeshi’s been weird lately. Hopefully you’ll sort them both out.” Dark found himself oddly grateful for the fact that Ed had not mentioned his eyepatch; it was awkward enough knowing that he now had to be careful on the stairs because of the lack of depth perception, or whatever the doctors said. It was even stranger returning with a one-of-a-kind injury. Then again, Ed was not most people. With only one natural arm and leg, he was probably well-versed in how not to talk to people who had just lost body parts.
 
“Takeshi!” He roared as soon as he saw a familiar mop of black hair make its way into the office. “Where the h-ll were you all this time?” The other man laughed and launched himself at Dark, stopping short and grinning broadly.
“Look at yourself, Dark! All handsome and dashing! I bet the ladies are digging you even more,” he laughed before dodging the swipe that the other journalist took at him. “But seriously,” he continued more quietly, “everyone’s been a little down lately.”
 
Dark grinned up at his friend. “Guess we’ll just have to give them something to laugh about then.”
 
Krad:
 
Every time he picked up a phone to call the Temple, Krad always felt slightly odd. You’d think that with mind magic a compulsory part of Guardian training, everyone would just utilize telepathy or some other, more efficient form of communication, but right now everything hinged upon a group of phone operators sitting in a stuffy little room. As such, the phone had been ringing for at least three minutes now, and his patience was wearing thin. As he chucked the phone back into its cradle in disgust, he wondered whether Kosuke had any idea of what was happening to his son. Standing up, he decided to head to class. It never paid to skive, after all. Not to mention that the Course Convenor would likely be on his case if he misbehaved after that little stunt with the therapist and his Chemistry professor.
 
As the professor continued to drone on about how to label different types of alcohols, Krad idly wondered who had broken into the flat. It would have had to be someone who’d been watching the place for weeks; four students with very different schedules would leave only a small window of time in which to get in, search the place and then get out. That meant it was likely another student. Of course, it could have also been a spy, using motes to keep an eye on the house and inform him when all of them were gone. The blond resisted the urge to sigh; the only problem with knowing about magick was that it opened up a whole different range of possibilities, leading to more possibilities to investigate. He was just thankful that the two girls knew nothing about his and Daisuke’s actual purpose; it would eliminate a number of scenarios that he would have otherwise had to consider. As annoying as Krad sometimes found them, he certainly did not want to have to interrogate them.
 
Then his thoughts wandered to the note he’d found, and when he could get down to tracking it properly. Repressing a sigh, he flipped a page of notes, pretending to be still paying attention to the lesson. It had been a while since the rogue Guardian had shown up anywhere, really; the last report they’d had of him was three years ago, and that had pinned him down in a small town just outside of Madrid. It figured; the man had always had a taste for farms and warmth in spite of his urban upbringing. Or perhaps it had been because of that; with von Brecht, assumptions were usually almost always wrong. The question was, what exactly was he planning here? None of the happenings appeared to be connected to him; they lacked the subtle simplicity that only a trained few could appreciate, himself being one of them. The entire thing was convoluted beyond all belief, and not for the first time Krad wished he could just ask for a replacement, pack up and go back to the Temple. At least training and stakeouts were marginally more interesting than sitting in a small classroom listening to a man babble on about issues he could really care less about. He’d only chosen Chemistry because it gave him the opportunity to cause a little chaos via explosion, anyway. So far, this year had been woefully short of bright, noisy and potentially dangerous happenings.
 
Ah, lunchtime. Krad sighed and snagged a salad from the cold foods bar and headed for a table, pulling out his phone even as he threw himself into a seat just seconds before another student. Grinning up smugly at the other student, he punched in Dark’s number and waited. Hopefully Daisuke would be still there, although he would not put it past his partner to go out and do something bizarrely domestic like going grocery shopping. Thankfully, the younger man picked up on the fourth ring. “Hello?”
 
“Daisuke,” he said pleasantly. “How are you?” Krad pulled a face at this opening; what was he, some stodgy old man making awkward conversation with a rarely-seen younger relative?
 
“Hey, um, Krad?”
 
“Yeah, Krad.” He was rather pleased at this; perhaps the other would regain bits of his memory, they’d hopefully be able to put the pieces together, solve the case and save the world before bedtime.
 
“Dark’s not here; he went back to work today. I told him to ask for another week’s rest, but he insisted on going.” Or not. Rubbing his temples, Krad struggled not to make a caustic remark, knowing that Daisuke would no longer understand.
 
“Right. Um, well, how’s his dog doing?”
 
“His dog?”
 
“Uh…yeah. Big black thing, drools all over the place. Bit hard to miss, especially if it packs away as much food as it looks like it can.”
 
“Right.” The other man paused awkwardly. “It’s okay, I guess.” There was another pause. “Well, it was nice talking to you. I’ll let Dark know you called—“
 
“Wait.” Krad looked around coolly, hoping that no one was eavesdropping. If what he was about to say ever got back to the Temple, or around the university for that matter, he would seriously leave. He was absolutely awful with this kind of thing. “Are you feeling better than yesterday?”
 
“Yeah.” There was a pause and then Daisuke spoke again. “It actually feels…nice. Like I’ve settled in. But Dark told me that I didn’t live with him before, and that you were just joking. Is that true?”
 
Krad was torn between explaining everything to his partner again, because sharing information was an integral part of teamwork, or so he’d heard, and partly because as annoying as he’d found Daisuke on occasion, the man was still his partner and the only one who had any modicum of control over him during the Change. “Well, yes I was.” There was a sharp intake of breath and the blond just knew that the redhead was going into kicked-puppy mode. “But you seemed so happy and relieved when you heard his name that I couldn’t say no.” The two girls sitting next to him suddenly burst into high-pitched giggles and he resisted the urge to hit them. He probably sounded like that idiot from the vampire series everyone liked so much; the one that made vampires look sparkly instead of like the rotting corpses that they were.
 
“Oh.” Daisuke sounded like he wanted to say something more, but eventually decided against it. “Well, um, I have to go.” Krad could just see the small, happy smile on the other’s face. “I have to get groceries. Can you believe that Dark only has a head of lettuce, some rice and orange juice in the house?”
 
“Huh. Seemed like a good cook when I last saw him though.” Before the conversation took a turn for the worse, Krad quickly ended it. “Well, looks like I have to finish lunch in a bit. See you, Daisuke.”
 
“Bye.” The phone clicked off and Krad stared at the mobile in his hand. It suddenly shuddered again and began to vibrate. The call was from an unknown number, but the blond had a feeling he knew who it was anyway. “Hikari,” he answered briskly.
 
“Hi Krad!” The man groaned and considered smashing his head into the table to dull the agony that he knew would follow. “How’s my favourite GQ model doing?”
 
“I’m not a model,” he gritted out slowly. “Have you been smoking mind-altering substances lately, Towa?”
 
“Hey, that’s mean,” she pouted down the phone. “And here I was, all ready to give you the good news.”
 
“Define good,” he replied dryly as he settled into his chair and scanned the room once more for signs of overly nosey students.
 
“So, we totally managed to get your powder and the little pearl you sent us rushed through. Kosuke said that anything you guys sent back was to be given priority, and since we had layoffs last week the lab rats are more than eager to please.”
 
“Towa.”
 
“I’m getting there, honey! A little patience never killed anyone, after all.”
 
“The powder is pretty standard stuff; ceramic, old, blah. There were hints of glaze in it though, so I’m guessing it was from one of those freaky little dolls people like to collect.” Krad closed his eyes. “But we found some glittery stuff mixed in. It could just be from the doll’s dress or whatever, but we can’t guarantee anything on that yet.”
 
“Okay.”
 
“Then there’s the pearl, which we had to send up and down the entire place six or seven times at least,” she huffed down the phone. “Do you have any idea how annoying it is to have to physically run around all day just because no one can identify your matter? We had to send it off to the Agency, Krad. The Agency.
 
Krad immediately sat up a little straighter. “Did you find anything useful?”
 
“Actually, yes. It’s brilliant. It’s a chip designed to amplify a living organism’s natural powers. I mean, okay, we have things like Viagra, and steroids, and protein shakes, all of which provide that extra oomph, but we’re talking about 200, 300 percent increases in physical attributes here. Like, if your body was an eighty-horsepower motorbike and you added the pearl in, it would jump up to at least two hundred.” Krad blinked.
 
“Sounds pretty heavy duty.”
 
“Oh, absolutely.” There was a note of admiration in Towa’s voice even as she continued. “And the reason it was so difficult to identify was because it had been mixed with organic matter.”
 
Krad blinked. “Okay…”
 
“Hello? Organic matter? That pearl was like the perfect storm! It even adapted itself to different organisms to accommodate their individual needs within a week! We tested it on Bell and she grew so big we had to get a new tank just to operate to get the pearl out!”
 
“Who on earth is Bell?”
 
“The jellyfish, silly!”
 
“Er, right. So the reason you couldn’t identify the pearl at first was because it was half organic and half mechanical, and therefore no one could decide what tests to run on it.”
 
“Yup.”
 
“And it turns out to significantly increase anyone or anything’s natural powers to freakishly insane levels.”
 
“So far, yes. Krad, sweetie, can I ask you something?”
 
A quick glance at the clock told him that he was fine. Nevertheless, he did not want to stay on the phone for too long. Talking to Towa, when not downright annoying because of the saccharine sweetness that she radiated like some bizarre, benevolent version of a sample of uranium, was simply exhausting. “Depends. And don’t call me sweetie.”
 
“Just between you and me, honeybunch, where did you find this wonder of technology?”
 
“I thought I filled out the report.”
 
“Yes, but there’s no way `work-related accident’ covers it. The Temple needs to know in a little more detail, as do I, obviously.”
 
“It really was a work-related accident.”
 
“You mean like how you accidentally broke the photocopier and ended up with glass shards in your rear end whilst acting like a drunken frat-boy at last year’s Christmas party?”
 
Krad spluttered for a few moments. The incident with the photocopier was not one he wanted to remember, especially not when there had been evidence plastered all over the walls the next day. “I have no idea what you’re talking about,” he haughtily replied in a vain attempt to retain at least some dignity.
 
“Honey, we need to know these things. What if there are more of them floating around? Oh, and you should have seen the look on those Agency scientists’ faces! It was absolutely priceless – they all went white, then grey, then I swear they nearly soiled themselves! I admit, if I’d known that showing them the pearl was the quickest way to get them to stop boasting about their new discoveries, I would have done it myself a long time ago.” The rivalry between the Agency and the Temples was infamous; their lab events were the best source of entertainment for Guardians and Agency employees alike.
 
“Uh, sorry Towa, I have to go. I have class now. Gotta blend in.” He forced a laugh down the phone and quickly hung up before the technician could say anything else. Krad glared at the phone and sighed. He knew he shouldn’t have killed that Gyakurin; just maybe whaled on it a little, tied it up in Magic Rope â„¢ and then dragged it to the Temple. Nevertheless, the Agency should not have been so bewildered or flustered by the appearance of what really amounted to an amalgamation of live cells and machinery. He wondered if it had been a special project of theirs; perhaps someone had infiltrated Agency ranks and stolen it? Then he snorted. Right. As if the Agency could ever best the Temples.
 
The rest of his day was relatively uneventful, for which Krad was extremely grateful as he walked back to the flat and thought about what he had learned from Towa. It was unlikely that the dust would ever provide a proper lead; unless the enchanter was a mere amateur, there would likely be no identifying traces of magick on it. He walked past a nearby supermarket and decided to step in for a moment, suddenly remembering how he was out of bread, milk and instant noodles. On the other hand, Riku had been feeling particularly generous lately and cooking for all of them, although that was highly unlikely to last. Sighing, he entered the store and shivered slightly as a cold blast of air hit him in the face.
 
He was making his way down the gigantic freezers and fighting the little voice that demanded ice cream when his trolley suddenly bumped into someone. “Ouch!” Snapping out of his thoughts, Krad stared at the person in front of him.
 
“Satoshi?”
 
The blue-haired man stared at him for a moment before a spark of recognition appeared in his eyes. Krad beamed; what a lovely surprise!
 
“Um, hi,” the other said carefully. “You’re Dark’s friend’s roommate, right?”
 
Huh. Well, it was a start. At least the man got his role correct. He leaned forward with his best charming smile and inhaled deeply. Much to his disappointment, there was not even a hint of a scent in the air. Just soap and ink.
 
“Absolutely. I’m Krad.” He held out his hand, which the journalist carefully shook. The blond raised an eyebrow. “Tsk. Didn’t you know a man’s measure is in his handshake? That was a bit dead fish, don’t you think?”
 
“Perhaps I didn’t want to make you think I was interested,” Satoshi immediately countered.
 
“Oh? Playing hard to get?”
 
“Not interested. And you just rammed your shopping cart into me. What makes you think I would feel benevolent or any variation thereof to you?”
 
“Touché.”
 
Satoshi seemed to ease up a little at this admission, a small half-smile playing on his lips as he readjusted the basket hanging off his arm. “Well, I have to go,” he said a little too quickly. “Lunch hour’s almost over.”
 
Krad almost sighed at himself; how could he have forgotten that the other man had a proper, working job? The perks of working as a Guardian-cum-student, he supposed; irregular schedules and frequent breaks were a luxury few had. “You want to come for dinner?”
 
Satoshi gave him a look that seemed torn between amusement and bewilderment. “What?” Even Krad was a little shocked at himself. Daisuke was supposed to be the impulsive one, not him! He was supposed to be the cool, deadly partner, not some wet-behind-the-ears rookie who blurted out inappropriate questions! Those sharp blue eyes turned on him once more, amusement sparkling in them once more. “Sure.” Satoshi’s lips curved up in a small, almost-smile. “But I’ll buy. Come by the office at seven.” The older man smiled and headed for the cashier, leaving a stunned Krad in his wake. Well, the Guardian thought wryly, at least I got what I wanted. Then a grin lit up his features. It would be entertaining to see who ended up on top, at least.
 
Dark:
 
He could not believe he was actually about to do this. Behind him, Takeshi cackled wickedly and clapped him on the back. “Calling the missus?”
 
“He’s not the missus. I barely even know him!”
 
“Just because it’s not called a spade doesn’t mean it’s not a spade.”
 
“I’ll have you know that cohabitation amongst acquaintances is very common. In fact, it’s what most students do when they’re still in university and want to move out of college residences.” Dark beams at Takeshi and leans back, feeling ridiculously happy at the comfortable banter.
 
Takeshi grins, white teeth flashing in a devil-may-care smile all the same. “Bet he’ll be begging to leave before the week’s out.”
 
“Oh ye of little faith,” Dark sighs. “I have been nothing but nice to him. I was brought up to treat guests well.”
 
The other journalist leaned on the wall of Dark’s cubicle. “So why is he staying at your place, anyway? I mean, you’ve never been one for social mores, but having a university student staying over at your place for an undetermined period of time seems a little dodgy, even to most normal people.”
 
Oops. In his discussion of the redheaded student, Dark had completely forgotten to come up with a plausible reason as to why Daisuke was staying with him instead of living in his own apartment. Thankfully, he’d had a lifetime of hiding various pieces of personal information, or framing it in such a way that the other party would come to a misunderstanding and leave satisfied. “The house is a bit hectic at the moment,” Dark finally said. “Daisuke’s got some stuff to sort out and I let him stay over until he’s done.”
 
“And does anyone else know about this little arrangement?”
 
“Well, it’s really quite personal…” Dark really hoped that Takeshi took the explanation at face value, because coming up with a whole other story to back his cover story up would not look good.
 
Takeshi laughed again. “All right,” he winked. “I’ll make sure your big gay love is kept quiet.”
 
Dark rolled his eyes but let the comment slide. There was no point in dwelling on another very uncomfortable subject. “Get back to work,” he laughed as he took a swipe at the layout designer, rolling his eyes at the other’s mocking grin after he dodged. It was good to be back, even if he only had one eye.
 
Daisuke:
 
He stared at the vast collection of haphazardly arranged DVDs, unsure of even where to begin. Dark had assured him last night that anything on this shelf was `open for his viewing pleasure’, so to speak, but he found himself overwhelmed by the sheer number of films and television series that now faced him Dark clearly took his television and movies seriously. Closing his eyes, he reaches forward and grabs one randomly, hoping that it will look vaguely interesting. A sinister clown stares impassively at him from the cover and Daisuke almost drops the box on the floor as he scrambles to replace it.
 
Daisuke was still trying to adjust to the idea of living with Dark, even though apparently he did not actually belong in the house and Krad had simply told him yes for the sake of convenience when asked. Nevertheless, it appeared as though Dark was not unhappy about the incident; he certainly had not shown any signs of resentment or annoyance at having an extra guest in the house. In fact, he seemed to welcome the company. Daisuke could see why; with neighbours who constantly shouted and screamed at each other, and the rather dilapidated appearance of the building, it could get a little depressing at times. He wondered why the older man had not moved to a better area. From what he remembered of Azumano, there were better apartments that likely cost the same amount as this one, although of course he was in no position to judge anything.
 
A crash down the hallway caused him to immediately go for the door and carefully open it. When confronted with the sight of an angry Kanagawa and a woman who looked to be his girlfriend, Daisuke sighed and closed the door once more. There was no point in getting involved; he’d heard how nasty Kanagawa could get if provoked, and the fight was really none of his business anyway.
 
Settling on Independence Day, a film known for its reliability and explosions, Daisuke settled in for an hour and a half’s worth of mind-numbing action. As yet another fleet of planes exploded courtesy of alien possession, a similar scenario flashed through his mind. He was sitting in a dark room, probably a cinema judging from the smell of old popcorn and recycled air that so many cinemas seemed to have these days. He was sitting next to someone slightly older, with light hair. It was Krad, he realized dimly. They were watching something; Bruce Willis was running across the screen. Just as suddenly, he was yanked back to the present, Will Smith shouting into the intercom and preparing for the final launch against the aliens. Mouth dry in shock, Daisuke lurched forward and fumbled for the glass of water he’d left on the coffee table earlier. I was friends with Krad, he realized.
 
He sat in front of the television long after the film had ended, furiously digging through his mind for any other old memories that might have buried themselves in his subconscious. Flashes of brightly coloured lights and weird symbols wandered through his thoughts, but as soon as he tried to grasp them more firmly, they skittered out of his reach. Frustrated, he groaned and stretched, ignoring the now-throbbing headache building up behind his eyes. Then the hairs on the back of his neck suddenly stood up on end, and Daisuke whipped around to see a tall, thin figure step into the room.
 
The first thought that crossed his mind was whether he had locked the door properly. Dark had told him to push it shut carefully because of its propensity to spring open if not carefully shut and bolted. A quick glance at the door showed him that it was still firmly bolted shut. The man smiled sinisterly. “Hello, Daisuke Niwa. How are you feeling?”
 
Daisuke warily moved backwards, feeling rather like he was trapped in an action movie of some sort. Dark would know what to do, he randomly thought before shaking his head. How would a mere journalist know anything about fighting a clearly dangerous man? “Who are you?” He asked before almost groaning and just giving up. Who on earth asked their would-be attacker for a name?
 
The man smiled. “I’m Doctor Izumi.” His voice sounded like gravel and dry leaves, all hissing with soft, dry clicks interspersed between his words. “It’s very nice to meet you,” he continued after a wry glance at the look on Daisuke’s face. “I’m just here to make sure you’re…recovering. You’re doing very well,” he added as though trying to be helpful. “It was nice meeting you. I’ll see you around.” Without another word, he silently vanished into thin air, leaving a bewildered redhead looking around for wires or trapdoors that might indicate an elaborate prank on Dark’s part.
 
Swallowing hard, Daisuke hastily grabbed his coat and keys before dashing out of the house. He had to find Krad; the other man seemed to be the only one who understood fully what was going on. He felt as though he had been thrown into an action film, a film where the hero appeared to be the only character who did not have any idea of what was going on. Well, he thought somewhat wryly, if I’m the hero, at least I’ll get to save the world and look good doing it. He slid off the couch and ambled over to the phone, flicking through the address book before landing on Krad’s number, much to his own surprise. He had not thought that Dark would actually keep Krad’s number anywhere.
 
Krad:
 
The blond Guardian was ploughing his way through a tedious chapter on esters and how they were created when his mobile suddenly chirped, the disgustingly cheery ringtone courtesy of Risa and her phone plan, which apparently included a number of free ringtones. “Hello?”
 
There was a slight hesitation at the end, as though the person was not sure that he had dialed the right number. “…Hello? Krad?”
 
Ah. Leaning back in his chair, still somewhat annoyed at the interruption, he forced a smile down the phone. Daisuke would have normally picked up on his mood immediately, but there was no telling what he might do seeing as he’d lost all his memories and apparently started making up new ones to fill the gaps in his mind. Huh. Who knew freshman Psychology would come into play this late in life? “How are you, Daisuke?”
 
“Um, fine.” There was definitely something on his mind; Krad could tell by the way Daisuke slowly drew out each word, as though he was so preoccupied that his mind was only half on the conversation at hand. Then it would all come rushing out, often resulting in near-incoherence and a lot of hand-waving. Silently playing the Jeopardy tune in his head, Krad waited. Just as he reached the final note, the dam broke. It was good to know that some things just never changed. “Therewasastrangemaninthehousecheckinguponme.”
 
“Come again?” Try as he might, Krad had never been very good at speed-talking.
 
“There was a strange man in the house. He said he was coming to check up on me.” There was a slight pause as Krad processed the information and Daisuke took another breath. “I mean, he was very civil, but I got the feeling that he really didn’t care about whether I survived or not.” There was another pregnant pause. “He, um, teleported.”
 
Krad sat up a little straighter in his chair. “He did what now?” There was, of course, no such thing as teleporting; that was for sci-fi movies and comics. There was phasing, where the traveller manipulated time and space instead of his actual physical form to get from one place to another in seemingly no time at all, but there was no proof of that happening. Nevertheless, he struggled to remember that for all intents and purposes, Daisuke was now as good – or as weak – as a civilian human.
 
“He…teleported. I know there isn’t really such a thing, but one minute he was there and the next he wasn’t. And he seems to know where I live. Doesn’t that qualify for stalker status, or something? Does Dark know about…anything, really?” This last question faded away, ending so quietly that had Krad not been part werewolf he would have missed it.
 
“Well, no,” he said bluntly. There was no time to ease Daisuke back into the world of magick and his duties, no matter what that insane journalist might think. “In fact, I’d say you were at an advantage because you’ve got magick, and you’re a Guardian.” Krad had never been one for tact.
 
The shock was not unexpected, but the quiver in Daisuke’s voice was. “I-I-I can’t be.”
 
Krad chuckled dryly. “Well Dorothy, I hate to tell you this, but you only left Kansas temporarily. Holiday’s over now.”
 
“You’re crazy.”
 
“All the world old is queer save thee and me, and even thou art a little strange,” Krad replied. “Or you could just come…over,” he winced here at the almost-slip, “and I’ll talk you through the whole process again.”
 
Daisuke hesitated, but Krad knew that the pull of more knowledge would be too strong to resist for his fellow Guardian. Besides, people dreamed of being told by a mysterious stranger that they were endowed with some gift or power that would help them save the world. He pressed on. “Haven’t you wondered why all of us claim to know you, but you don’t remember us? Don’t you want to know why I kept saying you lived with me even when you demanded to stay with Dark?”
 
Apparently he had pushed too far, too quickly. “I don’t even know you.” Daisuke snapped. “I don’t know why I called you in the first place, if all you’re going to do is talk in riddles and babble nonsense.” Before Krad could reply, the redhead slammed the phone down back into its cradle. The blond groaned and leaned back in his chair, pinching at the bridge of his nose to stave off an oncoming headache. He now had to decide whether to inform the Temple of this latest development or not; there was no telling when, or even if Daisuke would regain his memory. He certainly could not keep an eye on things alone, especially not with two other civilians in the house. Not to mention that Kosuke would be most displeased with this turn of affairs. What a mess this was.
 
Satoshi:
 
Satoshi stopped by Dark’s desk to show him the related cartoon, nodding at the journalist’s grin and thumbs-up. Of course, he was not obliged to show the other anything, but he knew that if Dark did not get at least a preview of what would be accompanying his pieces, he would come over to the artists’ section and harass everyone until someone gave in. Showing him the cartoons before they went to press was merely pre-emptive action, Satoshi had long ago decided.
 
His thoughts eventually turned to Krad, who he had promised to meet for…oh boy. A quick glance at the clock told him that the other man would be showing up at seven, or likely earlier if he was a student; the prospect of free fod was always a good incentive. He still had no idea why he’d offered to buy; as far as he was concerned, Krad was a Guardian masquerading as a university student for reasons likely best known to himself and Daisuke. His sensei had been out lately, but a quick peek through Star Temple files had yielded him a little basic information, such as his full name, position and, strangely enough, favourite colour. He had seen sample files before, mostly during training sessions, but he supposed it stood to reason that the Temple would not hand out private files to just anyone claiming to be from the Agency, even if he did have the card and other…marks to prove it. Now all he had to do was make it through dinner and smile. It should be easy; after all, the mere thought of dating anyone, let alone a university student, would be a sufficient reminder to keep himself in check.
 
Seven o’ clock rolled around, but no one showed up at the door. Truth be told, the artist had half-expected Krad to suddenly appear in his office, scribble `Sorry’ on a Post-It note and stick it to his chest. Most people usually had second thoughts about dating him, especially after going out for dinner with him. Losing the majority of one’s organs tended to kill the appetite. Well, at least Krad would be out of his hair. As nice as it was to think of spending a little time with people other than Dark, Takeshi, a couple of the other artists or his sensei, he simply could not afford that luxury with Krad. Not right now, likely not ever if his sensei or anyone else had a say in the matter
 
At precisely 7.03pm, the bell to the reception suddenly chimed. No one bothered looking up; it was normally deliveries from the diner across the street, for those unfortunate souls who had been unable to finish their pieces in time. Then someone yelled his name and Satoshi ventured back into the sea of cubicles, mildly curious to see if Krad would turn up.
 
The Guardian had turned up after all, dressed in a crisp dress shirt and a pair of well-cut jeans. Satoshi heard the titters of the three secretaries and the other female journalists and sighed; their interest in the blond man did not bode well. “Hello, Krad,” he coolly greeted. “How was class today?” At the shocked silence in the room, the blue-haired man could not but smile in amusement.
 
Judging from the look on his face, Krad knew exactly what he was up to. “Satoshi. It’s good to see you.” Moving forward swiftly, the blond swept him into a bear hug, so tight that the older man swore he could feel his ribs creaking in protest. “I’ve been thinking about you all day.” Knowing that there was nothing he could do any more to prevent the inevitable gossip that would swirl around the office, the blue-haired man let himself go limp and hugged the other back. As he slid out of the other’s grasp, he reached out and tugged the other man’s hand, looking up coyly and feeling like a right idiot all the while.
 
“Come on, cupcake.”
 
Krad burst out laughing as soon as he entered the room. “Cupcake?” He inquired amusedly.
 
Satoshi turned to face the Guardian, feeling a little off-guard and not a little irked at himself for fuelling the fire that would surely come for him tomorrow. “You should probably know that I’m not interested.”
 
“Well, admittedly, we have had a few obstacles, but I assure you that Daisuke—“
 
“This isn’t about your flatmates’ opinions,” Satoshi mildly replied. “I said I’d buy you dinner. We can talk about this entire delusion you seem to have created over it.” Grabbing his coat off his desk chair, he briskly walked out of the door. “I hope you like Thai.”
 
A ten minute walk later, they were seated in a tiny restaurant tucked away behind one of the town’s many marketplaces, seated comfortably in an alcove at the back of the restaurant. Satoshi bit back a grin at the look on Krad’s face; it was clear that the other man appreciated the decor and atmosphere of the place. It was also known for the authenticity of its cuisine, but low-profile enough not to warrant a visit from the Michelin committee. As they tucked into the Phad Thai, the artist started up a little conversation. It never hurt to know more about any Guardian, and Krad Hikari had been a `person of interest’ for some time now.
 
“How’s the food?” He asked as the final dish arrived. True to student custom, Krad was trying a little of everything and eating as much as possible. The cartoonist smiled wryly; he remembered all too well the hunger pangs and lack of good food that came with being a student. He still could not look at a can of tuna without wanting to retch.
 
“It’s amazing,” Krad replied honestly; the first honest thing he’d said all evening? It was difficult to tell; they had somehow become the two people whose intentions had somehow become obscured under a blanket of banter and playful jokes. Only, he was serious. He needed to make sure that Krad knew and understood that too.
 
“I understand you wanted to ask me out? The meal is on me.”
 
“Oh?” Those golden eyes lit up with interest once more as the blond leaned forward. “Paying for me now?”
 
Satoshi sighed and leaned forward so that he was almost nose-to-nose with the younger man. “I’m not interested,” he said softly. “Consider this compensation.”
 
“Feeling guilty?”
 
“Not at all.” Satoshi sighed and moved back, so that he could better look at the other. “I’m sure you have your fair share of potential life partners, or however you choose to refer to them.” He calmly ignored the snicker that made its way out from behind his dinner partner’s cup. “So stop bothering me. We can still be friends,” he offered, although he knew that most of the time that it was never redeemed anyway.
 
Krad slowly moved the glass away from his face and stared at Satoshi, grinning slightly. “Wow,” he commented dryly, “you just managed to insult my integrity, my sense of decency and my honour in one whole sentence. Too bad the guy with the record managed to do my parents and species in one sentence as well.” The cartoonist had to smile at that.
 
“Well, I was holding back a little. I don’t generally go around breaking people’s hearts.” As soon as the words came out of his mouth, Satoshi knew that he had made a grave mistake. The comment would likely only challenge Krad further, and he would be left with a Guardian trailing him day and night. “I know the thrill of the chase is all that really matters to you at this stage,” he forced a smile, “but trust me, going after older men isn’t a…healthy pastime. Go find something else to do.”
 
Krad started laughing at this point. “Well, I’m sure we’ve just played out the only scenario not considered by romance novelists,” he finally managed to get out before collapsing into another round of laughter. “And not to make fun of you or anything, but you’re an awful lot of work for a quick fling.”
 
Blue eyes sparked in exasperation. “Exactly.”
 
The other man must have decided to relent for now, as he relaxed into his chair and let out another few bursts of quiet laughter, no doubt in amusement at the turn which affairs had taken. “All right,” he dryly conceded. “I’ll leave you alone. For now.” Satoshi should not have shuddered at that. It was almost certainly misconstrued.
 
Dark:
 
“Honey, I’m home!” Dark sighed as he stepped into the house, carefully closing and bolting the door so that no one would stumble in by mistake; an all too frequent occurrence when most of one’s neighbours had a tendency to spend the night either soused or higher than a kite. The first thing he saw was the carelessly-tossed aside remote control, something that would have immediately caught Daisuke’s eye and sent him running to put it back in its proper place on the coffee table. Unless the student had run out on him, or someone had scared him off, it was unlikely that even such a minor detail had escaped the other’s mind. Perhaps he had class and rushed off in a hurry? Highly unlikely; living with the other for a little more than a week had already taught him that Daisuke could not leave a room without first tidying up. He only hoped that no harm had befallen his houseguest.
 
“Daisuke?” Shucking off his coat and draping it over one arm, he began to make his way down the hallway.
 
He found the younger man backed up against the wall of the guest room, carving knife pointed outwards with one hand. Even as he quickly held up both hands to show that he was unarmed, he noted that the other’s hand did not once waver, and there was no trace of fear in those deep crimson eyes. “It’s just me,” he quickly reassured the other.
 
As though he had not heard, Daisuke barked out a question. “What colour were the sheets the first night I came back?” Dark felt a small stab of surprise when he heard the `back’; he had previously thought that Daisuke was aware of the fact that the little apartment had never really been his home. Nevertheless, he could not repress the small smile that the thought gave him.
 
Just as Dark was about to answer, a sudden howl filled the room. Out of nowhere, the large black dog that he’d somehow acquired bounded in and threw itself at Daisuke, man and animal going down in a flurry of tangled limbs. “Dammit, heel boy! Heel!” It struck him for the first time that he had not actually bothered to name the dog, although where it had disappeared off to for the past several days was still a mystery. He decided to check it after he got this little mess sorted out.
 
“Stop it!” He yelled, causing both dog and man to suddenly stop struggling altogether. Fixing a fierce glare on the black animal in front of him, Dark pointed to the spot near his feet. “Come here.” Tongue lolling out almost sheepishly, the dog padded over to Dark and sat down immediately, large brown eyes looking up apologetically. What did not reassure the journalist was the sight of red staining the creature’s teeth and muzzle, gleaming wetly in the light.
 
Dark rushed over to tend to Daisuke, hands immediately patting at various spots. Thankfully, the dog had not sunk its teeth into anything vital, but the redhead did sport a nasty gash along his side along with the expected scrapes and bruises. His heart sank as he took in the bloody mess that was the other’s right arm and grabbed the dog’s collar on the way out, hauling the animal into the living room before going for the first aid kit. Yanking out a roll of gauze and some iodine, he got to work. Thankfully, the bleeding was already slowing down, and most of the wounds appeared to be fairly easy to patch up, but the one on Daisuke’s arm appeared to need stitches. Dark sighed; he knew that hospitals would be more than happy to do the job for him, but he also knew that it would lead to a number of unnecessary and incredibly difficult to answer questions. Taking out a sewing needle and plain white cotton thread, he carefully rearranged Daisuke so that the younger man’s arm rested in his lap. “Hey, Daisuke, I’m going to stitch you up now,” he softly told the other. The red-eyed man simply and made a noise in his throat, which the journalist took to be acquiescence. “It’s gonna hurt a bit,” he added. “You want something to bite on?” He knew that it was imperative that the other not pass out, in case he slipped away. Daisuke slowly shook his head from one side to the other. Dark nodded. “Okay. If it gets to be too much, tell me and I’ll stop. Try to stay awake though, okay? I’ll let you sleep once you’re all patched up.” Daisuke slowly nodded and Dark swallowed, positioning the needle at one side of the jagged wound.
 
The next morning found the large dog slobbering all over Dark as he lay in bed, desperately trying to get an extra fifteen minutes’ sleep in before his alarm went off and he had to show up at work again. He finally gave up against the onslaught of tongue and dog breath and groaned as he sat up in bed, sparing a glare at the dog sitting happily next to him, blissfully unaware of the chaos it had caused last night. Without really thinking about it, Dark waved a hand dismissively at the animal. “Begone, fiend,” he half-joked. “I’m awake now.” In an explosion of dark violet sparks, the black dog suddenly disappeared and Dark blinked. Surely he hadn’t made the thing explode into little purple sparkles? “Er, I didn’t mean that,” he called out, feeling a little lame. “You didn’t have to disappear on me.” When the animal failed to reappear, Dark sighed in disappointment. At least I won’t have to walk the dog every day, he thought wryly as he got into the shower. Still, it had been nice having an animal around, something simple and less demanding than his still-amnesiac houseguest.
 
To his surprise, he found Daisuke sitting in the living room, carefully nibbling at an apple. “Up so early?”
 
“Yeah,” the crimson-eyed man slowly replied. “Have an early class today. The teacher likes to take roll call.”
 
“You sure you’ll be okay? We should probably change those dressings too, before you head off.” Dark nodded at the white bandages criss-crossed over Daisuke’s neck and arm, stretching down beneath his shirt. “I’ll help you with that, once I get my coffee.” The student smiled a little at this and tilted his head towards the teapot that Dark swore he’d lost three years ago.
 
“You sure you wouldn’t like some tea? It’s quite strong.”
 
“Nah, only coffee for me.” Dark got the percolator going and jammed two pieces of bread into the toaster, pulling out a small cup of yoghurt as well. He absently-mindedly licked at the remains of the sweet treat whilst waiting for the bread to pop out of the toaster, immediately grabbing both slices and spreading a generous amount of butter and marmalade on top before heading out. Daisuke appeared to be almost done with his apple, but his cup of tea was still hot and steaming, and it appeared as though he would not leave the table for a while. “When’s your class?”
 
“Nine.”
 
“What major are you, anyway?”
 
“Art.” At the look on Dark’s face, Daisuke smiled a little. “That’s what Risa and Riku looked like too when we first met.” The journalist did not reply; he too remembered the looks on people’s faces when he told them that he was going to apply for journalism at Cornell. He had not been able to go; his mother took a turn for the worse that year and he had decided to remain in Japan for a little while longer to take care of her. He sometimes still wondered what would have happened had he left; it was one of those things that just drifted across his mind whenever he had too much time on his hands.
 
“That’s an interesting choice,” he replied. “Do you like it?” From the way Daisuke’s eyes lit up as he described the project they were currently working on in class, it appeared that he more than liked it.
 
It was a pity they did not talk more often, Dark thought as he dropped Daisuke off at the University before heading to the office. Once you got past the prissy exterior and likely all the Guardian-induced angst, Daisuke was quite a nice person. Dark decided to be nicer to Daisuke; after all, if the student was going to be living with him for the foreseeable future, he may as well try and make it enjoyable for the both of them. He sighed and twitched uncomfortably at the prospect of asking Daisuke about what had triggered his knife-happy mode; he’d held off this morning because he didn’t want to agitate the redhead any further. Or maybe, an insidious little voice inside his mind whispered to him, you just don’t want to find out. You just don’t want the confirmation.
 
They continued in a similar vein, neither wanting to go over the previous night’s events. Dark paused when they stepped out into the crisp morning, holding up a set of car keys in front of the younger man’s face. “Want a lift?”
 
When they got to the university, Daisuke found himself giving directions to Dark on how to get to the Fine Arts building. It was clear that the journalist had never been on campus before, and not for the first time he wondered what had brought the other here to Azumano. “You can let me off here,” he finally said, knowing that it would be much easier for him to just walk to class now. The journalist grinned brightly up at him and nodded, and for a moment Daisuke swore he could feel his heart skip a beat. Blushing at the mere thought, he hastily turned away and made a run for the safety of the classroom before Dark could yell anything remotely embarrassing after him. He somehow just knew that the other would love to tease him openly for the kicks.
 
Dark watched as Daisuke took off like a shot before checking his watch. Wincing at the time; he would be cutting it extremely close thanks to rush hour traffic and all the other intricacies that came with driving to work, he headed straight for the office. Thankfully, Takeshi had not asked for a ride today. With just minutes to spare, Dark pulled into the parking lot and headed for the closest space, groaning at the thought of leaving Sally out to bake in the hot, hot sun.
 
He almost ran into Ed on his way in, flailing madly as he made a mad dash to swipe his card before the electronic register marked him as late. It was a silly system, he’d always thought; checking employees off like they were still in primary school had always riled him up somewhat. Nevertheless, this was the job that paid his bills and even he was not going to quit just because of some higher-up’s lousy need to keep tabs on what time his employees came in at.
 
A quick scan of his inbox revealed a number of interesting tidbits. Dark sighed as he deleted the article about surfboarding rabbits; interesting, but likely to go to Mia or one of the other, newer journalists. Quickly highlighting the topics that he would be interested in covering, the purple-haired man made his way over to Fred, who was the unofficial organizer of their little section. The man was dressed today in one of the most hideous shirts Dark had ever seen in his life, with red and apple-green clashing together to form some sort of mould-inspired pattern. Nevertheless, he was the only one who could keep the peace, and this invaluable talent earned him the grudging respect of all those involved. “Oh Fre-ed,” he cooed happily as he poked the other man.
 
Ignoring Dark’s mischievous grin, Fred immediately opened the list of available topics and turned his screen so that the other journalist could see which ones had already been taken, and which were still available. “Well,” he stated, “you’re more than welcome to fight over the illegal lobbying story with Elric, but I’d let him have it because he’s been around a little longer. Understands what people want to hear, you see. On the other hand, you’re more than welcome to the somersaulting parakeet story, since they’re all the rage now.” Dark immediately interrupted, having already been saddled with filler stories for a few days now `whilst he got his feet back’, as Fred repeatedly pointed out.
 
“What about that factory meltdown just outside of the city limits?”
 
“It’s going to Seiya, as soon as he gets his eternally late ass in here.”
 
“What? But he’s not even here! And I call first dibs!”
 
“Dark, this isn’t primary school anymore. You can’t just call dibs on things!”Fred paused with his mouth half-open as though about to say something else, but then firmly closed it again. Dark immediately went for the kill.
 
“Come on, Fred,” he coaxed, “You know I’m good. I’ve been here long enough to no longer need to prove myself, haven’t I? I’ve earned the right to be trusted with bigger, better articles now. And you know I can do it, even with a bum eye and all—“
 
“It’s your insurance, okay?”
 
Dark reeled back, mind immediately processing the implications. “But that didn’t even cover accidents outside of work!”
 
Fred sighed impatiently, but the other man could see the sympathy in his eyes. “Some of the higher-ups decided to break out the corporate responsibility handbook at that point, and you just happened to benefit from their suddenly-generous policy changes. For once.” Dark could not believe his ears.
 
“So what? I cost the company too much and that’s why you can’t let me out of the office anymore?”
 
Fred shrugged helplessly. “Orders from the Powers that Be,” he said helplessly, tugging at the collar of his horrific shirt. “You know I’d give you the bigger jobs in a heartbeat, but for now you’ll just have to make do with Shirley and hope for the best.”
 
“Who?”
 
“The acrobatic parakeet.”
 
Slumping down in defeat as he recognized the determined set of Fred’s jaw, Dark slowly made his way back his cubicle, wishing silently that Shirley the somersaulting parakeet would just up and die. At least people would be tempted to buy the paper in her memory.
 
A quick glance at his official e-mail inbox showed nothing of immediate importance. After banging out a half-baked e-mail to the proud owners of Shirley, Dark leaned back and surfed for a while, glancing through parakeet articles and hoping that there would be something more interesting to add to the story. After all, he did have 700 words to write. The least he could do was make it interesting. A sudden beep from his computer alerted him to the arrival of two new e-mails, one of them from Takeshi and the other from Shirley’s owners. Clicking on his friend’s e-mail, Dark was confronted with a rather aggressive message.
 
From: Saehara, T
To: Mousy, D
Subject: WTF
 
My sister just texted me. You robbing the cradle now?
 
Completely bewildered, Dark immediately replied, rising to defend his honour from an unseen foe.
 
From: Mousy, D
To: Saehara, D
Subject: Re: WTF
 
I have no idea what you’re talking about. Let me know what you’re smoking.
 
From: Saehara, T
To: Mousy, D
Subject: Re: Re: WTF
 
You dropping students off at university out of the kindness of your own heart now?
 
Dark did not bother answering the last e-mail; he knew exactly what would happen if he did. He would likely respond with something inappropriate and offensive to everyone and his mother, and with the way his luck was going, he would also likely be called into Human Resources for abuse of equipment. Besides, there was nothing he could say to contradict Takeshi’s statement. Sighing, he opened the e-mail from the parakeet owners and immediately sent them a list of questions, as well as asking if he could interview them by telephone. Rubbing his already throbbing temples, he set to looking for footage of the amazing somersaulting avian. It would be good if he could get a still of the creature mid-trick. Or something like that.
 
Lunchtime came all too quickly, bringing with it the usual extra edge now that the morning was officially over. As usual, Shun from IT passed around the takeout menu, which most of the staff already knew by heart from too many hours spent in the office working overtime to make sure the paper was finished. The doorbell rang and as soon as the takeout arrived, everyone simply swarmed around the boxes of food and huddled together in little groups, chatting and laughing. Takeshi immediately made a beeline for Dark’s desk, followed by Satoshi. For some reason, the blue=haired man appeared somewhat distracted today, as evidenced by his rumpled shirt. Admittedly, the cartoonists always looked a little disheveled from crawling through image archives all day long, but for someone as fastidious as Satoshi to sport a shirt with an obvious ink stain on the shirtsleeve was a sign that he was either under great emotional turmoil., or that he had simply forgotten to do the laundry. Dark was willing to bet his money on the former. Satoshi might not be the next Nigella Lawson, but he was certainly a stickler for clean clothes.
 
As Takeshi opened his mouth to speak, Satoshi shot him a glare that could have stopped a charging elephant cold. “Piss off, Saehara.” With a glance at Dark to let him know that he was not yet off the hook, Takeshi lazily saluted the artist and wandered back to his desk, letting Dark breathe a sigh of relief. He really did not want to explain the living situation with Daisuke right now. However, as soon as he heard about Satoshi’s little problem, he almost wished he could turn back time and have that awkward conversation with Takeshi after all.
 
“Krad’s hitting on me. And I kinda like it.”
 
Who the hell had died and appointed him resident therapist? Dark was going to kill the person once he found out.
 
Hi all, hope you enjoyed this chapter! Reviews are much appreciated!
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Chapter 2